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Finding local resources when your child has LD or AD/HD

Follow these practical steps to define your child's needs and find help for him close to home.

By Lisa Kay , Robbie Fanning, M.A. , Darla Hatton

The first steps to take when you notice your child is struggling to learn are prereferral, assessment, or diagnosis (see A Guide to Finding Local Resources When Your Child Struggles to Learn). Once the reason for your child's learning problem has been identified, you'll know more precisely what he needs in order to learn. Where do you look and how do you begin this search? This article will help guide you through the four steps to discovering local resources:

1. Summarizing your child's needs

Whatever type of specialist you're seeking for your child, you can turn to a variety of resources (people, organizations, and directories) for contact information. If you're not sure what type of specialist your child needs, review Specialists in the Learning Disabilities Field. Ask your child's teacher or IEP team what outside specialists they recommend to supplement the special services your child is getting in school.

Before you start calling people, make a list summarizing your child's situation. This will help you describe your child's needs in a succinct way. List these facts:

  • Child's name
  • Age
  • Grade in school
  • Name and type of school (public or private)
  • Identification/diagnosis: For example, "He has an auditory processing disorder."
  • Observations (yours or the teacher's): For example, "My son can't remember what he has heard after the teacher gives instructions."
  • Type of specialist needed (e.g., tutor, advocate); be as specific as possible.

It may also be helpful to set up a resource notebook to organize all the information you will be gathering.

2. Contacting national sources for local referrals

Some national organizations have systems in place to help you search for state or local referrals. The referrals are free, but the professionals to whom you are referred usually charge for their services. Some services, however, are free or low-cost, indicated in the list below by an asterisk (*).

Check with these national organizations for:

Educational therapists and tutors

Speech, language, and hearing therapists

Medical professionals

Ask your medical insurance company for a list of local providers covered by your policy. If you're looking for a specialist,  find out if a referral from your child's pediatrician is required for insurance purposes.

Legal assistance/advocates

Parent training

The following national resources may have information about parent-training programs in your area.

Additional resources

Darla Hatton, the mother of a child with dyslexia, is a presenter on reading and assistive technologies and a certified reading specialist. After misinformation delayed her daughter in receiving proper early interventions, she’s made it her mission to shorten the learning curve for other parents. Check out her video, I Am Dyslexia and she maintains a web site, Dyslexia Facts.

Comments from readers

"In your article about resources for parents with kids with learning disabilities you never give suggetions for schools/ don't you have a data base of schools for kids with learning disabilities? "